Us (Jordan Peele, 2019) 4 out of 4 stars.
Once again Jordan Peele crashes through our mental cavities without any discernable mercy and penetrates our nightmares with the overlooked fear of the doppelgänger in Us. Black Panther’s Lupita Nyong’o and Winston Duke play Adelaide and Gabe Wilson. The Wilsons and their two children, played by Shahadi Wright Joseph and Evan Alex, are your average American family, on their way to their beach-house getaway. Everyone settles in quickly except for Adelaide. Memories of a horrifying night that took place on the same beach when she was a child come flooding back. She can’t help but think whatever terrified her as a child is dangerously close.
Us is Jordan Peele’s love letter to the sinister and weird tales of Alfred Hitchcock and Rod Serling. Since his directorial debut Get Out, Peele’s control of the visceral language of film has reached that of a seasoned master. It’s quite beautiful to witness a new artist like Jordan Peele establish their unique voice so quickly.
It’s understandable to want to compare the merits of Us to those of Get Out. With much less to prove to audiences and his peers, Peele has imbued Us with a stronger and more consistent visual palette that Get Out lacked. Cinematographer Mike Gioulakis litters the film with brilliant shorthand imagery that distills the danger of the situation right away. And this danger never dissipates for a second. The comedy works hand in hand with the terror. The joke is never forced into the scene as it may be in a Marvel superhero film. The humor of Us releases the tension instead of drop-kicking it out the door.
Lupita Nyong’o showcases her most nuanced and challenging performance yet. Every year the horror genre blesses with remarkable performances and every year they pray these performances will get noticed by the Academy. Nyong’o certainly doesn’t need the approval of a small, gold, shiny man, but you can’t help but be satisfied when the insanely talented ones win all of the awards. Just all of them!